Audi's foray into the electric age begins with the 2016 A3 e-tron, a plug-in hybrid electric model that is the first of many electrified cars from the German brand. The e-tron reaches dealers late this fall, leading a charge of hybrid-electric Audis across the company's model lineup that by 2025 will account for 25 percent of the company's sales.
"This is our first step,"Audi product manager Ajay Chawan said. "We've got a lot of other things coming."
In contrast to battery-only Tesla, Audi's approach is to offer plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles that can drive solely on power from the electric grid for a distance of about 20 miles, while keeping a gas engine for longer drives or when it isn't possible to plug in for a recharge, Chawan explained.
The A3 e-tron is a station wagon, while the regular A3 is a sedan, because the company has decided to distinguish its green hybrid and diesel models through the use of a different body style, he added. We'll see how that works out with the R8 e-tron.
To promote the notion of plugging in, Audi produced a YouTube video featuring Bob Dylan's legendarily controversial electrified performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, when he plugged in a FenderStratocaster guitar to play rather than his usual acoustic guitar.